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Virginia’s Fast Growth Brings Shifting Political Landscape

Once a GOP stronghold, Virginia is a battleground state in the 2008 race. Jeffrey Brown examines changes in northern Virginia in the first of two reports on the tossup state.

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    At the Lucketts Fair in Northern Virginia recently, the ways of rural life — crafts, machinery, and music — were much on display.

    There are strong roots and a lot of history in this area.

    JOHN SHRY, Resident of Virginia: My family's been here for almost 300 years.


    Three hundred years?


    Yes, sir.




    We have been in Loudoun for a long time, back before we were the United States, British rule. We have been out here a long time.


    But for John Shry and others we talked with, Loudoun County is no longer so far out here. Just 25 miles from Washington, D.C., what was once a farming community has become the fastest-growing county in the state, and one of the fastest in the country — more building, more people, and, yes, lots more traffic.

    MICHAEL, Resident of Virginia: It's incredible. This used to be the country. We used to drive out here and ride out here just to go to the country. And now, of course, civilization has just rolled over this area.

    TOM MCGORRY, Resident of Virginia: I was the 13th doctor in this county when I first came here. And now there's 850 doctors on the staff. So, this county has changed big time.


    There are two key things to know about Virginia this election. The first is that the state has voted for the Republican presidential candidate going all the way back to 1964. This is historically a red state. The other new change, though, is demographic, especially in the last decade, which is having a profound impact on the state's economy, culture and politics. Old and new, red and at least now partially blue, Virginia is, by all accounts, a purple battleground.

  • MARK ROZELL, Political Scientist, George Mason University:

    Virginia is transforming, there's no doubt about that.


    George Mason University political scientist Mark Rozell says that Northern Virginia, adding more than 300,000 people just this decade, is seeing the biggest transformation.


    We have seen the swelling ranks of government employees who live in Northern Virginia, but might work in the District of Columbia, new immigrant populations that are coming into that area which are exploding in size as well. And then, of course, you have a new high-tech industry and private employment that's just swelling the population of Northern Virginia.

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